Over 800 Bangladeshi expatriates to be sent back

Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail has revealed that 837 Bangladeshi nationals in the Maldives have requested to return to their country.

Speaking at the daily news conference held at the National Emergency Operations Centre on Saturday, Minister Fayyaz said the government is making arrangements to send them back to their country.

While the large influx of foreign expatriates in the Maldives has become a concerning matter, the government is continuously working to find a solution to the issue, said Minister Fayyaz. He noted that the positive result of the suspension of arrivals from Bangladesh is becoming evident. Since the decision was made, only 1362 skilled labourers from Bangladesh entered the country, all of whom had applied to come to Maldives before the suspension came into effect. This is a significant decrease from an average of 3000 Bangladeshi nationals previously entering the country every month, said Fayyaz.

Minister Fayyaz said over 40,000 expatriates had registered under the government's recent regularization program, out of which a large majority are undocumented. The government is working to provide them with the relevant papers and find employment for them, said the minister.

However, it is a challenging task to arrange the necessary documentation via the embassy, the minister said. The process could take upto 5 months, said Fayyaz. Therefore, the government has offered the opportunity to send back those who wish to go back to Bangladesh, and 837 people have made the request accordingly, said the minister. While 130 of these expatriates have passports, arrangements to send them back to Bangladesh have not yet been finalised as the country has suspended all arrivals, including its own nationals, in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Foreign Ministry is working to come to an arrangement with the Bangladeshi government, the government has announced.

The government will also be shifting foreign expatriates living in dire and unhygienic conditions to more suitable accommodation. Over 2500 expatriates will be moved in this regard.